Highlights heard during report about fine arts programming at Adrian Public Schools

Just over 300 Adrian High School art students created more than 900 pieces of art for a Sticky Note Art Show that was on display at Grata Domum Realty in downtown Adrian at the September First Fridays. The Sticky Note Art Show is now displayed at Adrian High School near room B100.

ADRIAN — Adrian Public Schools continues to place an emphasis on ensuring each student in kindergarten through 12th grade has an opportunity to be involved in some form of fine arts curriculum, whether that be during the school day or through involvement with after-school programming.

A report on the status of the district’s 2023-24 fine arts offerings was given last week when Michelle Force, fine arts coordinator for Adrian Public Schools, addressed the Adrian Board of Education.

Her nearly 20-minute presentation, which highlighted course offerings for elementary, middle and high school students; upcoming plays, musicals and theater performances; as well as partnerships with local organizations to continue increasing the outreach of the fine arts department was met with praise from a number of board members.

Michelle Force

“This is just mind blowing,” school board Vice President Jon Baucher said. He called the energy that Force and her team is bringing to the fine arts department “rewarding.” 

“It’s rewarding to see how much we are enriching our students with these opportunities and how they are taking advantage of them,” he said. 

At least 38% of the student body at Adrian High School is involved in the musical arts, a slide from Force’s presentation said. Sixty percent of high school students, meanwhile, are enrolled in the visual arts. 

Numbers for this school year at Springbrook Middle School are trending upward, Force said, as compared to fine arts participation numbers in the 2022-23 school year.

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At each of the four elementary schools in the district, students experience 50 minutes of art per week and 60 minutes of music classes each week. 

Citing his appreciation for data, Baucher said the student participation numbers across the district are “staggering.” He credited such results to what Force and her team are making available to students.

Adrian Public Schools Board of Education Vice President Jon Baucher

“The kids want to be a part of this,” he said.

Other highlights of Force’s presentation include:

  • Drama has been added back to the high school as a third trimester course offering. At the high school, students can also enroll in band, choir, orchestra, piano, guitar, dance, International Baccalaureate (IB) art, 2-D design, ceramics, 3-D sculpture, studio art, photography, jewelry, painting and drawing.
  • After-school programming and enrichments are being offered, including drama clubs at all of the elementary schools, a dance camp for elementary students, K-12 art clubs with assistance from the Adrian Center for the Arts, honors choir continuing this year and piano camp in the spring for middle school students. 
  • Almost $70,000 has been awarded to the fine arts department to support students from the Adrian Schools Educational Foundation. This is made up of $42,600 in standing grants and $25,000 in classroom funds. 
  • Adrian High School unveiled its new, one-day, sticky note art show at Grata Domum Realty in downtown Adrian during the Sept. 1 First Fridays. The artistic sticky notes are now on display in the high school outside room B100, which is where the school board generally has its meetings.
  • The high school music department kicked off the school year with marching band season and performances at home varsity football games.  
  • Honors choir has nearly 60 students signed up, and the Balladiers, Adrian High School’s show choir, have auditions happening soon.
  • On Sept. 9, music educators from Adrian and Tecumseh held a joint workshop for students who were new to music classes. The hands-on class also featured games, activities and a bounce house. 
  • Fine arts students were involved with the Artalicious Fine Arts Fair in downtown Adrian this past weekend. Band, orchestra, choir and Balladier performances were staged during Artalicious, and students also worked as event volunteers. The second annual Lenawee County K-12 digital art show was displayed inside the Adrian District Library. 
  • Upcoming theater productions are posted online at www.adrianmaples.org/departments/fine-arts.php. Tickets for the shows also can be purchased there. Springbrook Middle School opens the slate of theater productions this school year with “The Taming of the Shrew” from Oct. 12-14.
  • At least 20 fine arts performances are scheduled across the district between now and the end of November. 

This past summer, Force and Emily Gifford, theater manager at the high school’s Julianne and George Argyros Performing Arts Center, were selected by the district to facilitate the district’s fine arts programming. Annie Howard is Adrian’s assistant fine arts coordinator. 

To generate more interest among students in the fine arts offerings at Adrian Public Schools, the district revitalized its PlayBill strategic plan through the guidance of Force and Gifford. Another facet to the success has been the “Arts for All” initiative, which has a focus on promoting the district’s fine arts offerings to its students throughout the elementary, middle and high schools.

More:Fine arts department at Adrian Public Schools carries out 90-day vision plan for 2022-23

Partnerships have been set up with the Boys & Girls Club of Lenawee and the Adrian Center for the Arts for conducting after-school programming. 

“This is what we have wanted for so long to come together,” school board President Beth Ferguson said. “Finally, all of the pieces came together.”

Just over 300 Adrian High School art students created more than 900 pieces of art for a Sticky Note Art Show that was on display at Grata Domum Realty in downtown Adrian at the September First Fridays.

Trustee Tamaris Henagan also lauded the work of Force and her fine arts team, saying students have choices to explore and find the things that might matter to them. She was “beyond overwhelmed and impressed” by the district’s fine arts offerings, she said. 

“It feels like what Adrian Public Schools felt like when I went here as a kid,” she said. “As a kid who did not have the resources to participate or didn’t even have the parent support, I counted on the arts because those were the things available during the school day. Those were the things that I could do that my parents didn’t have to take me back and forth after school to participate in.

“Even when (students) don’t have those other adults in their life to encourage them, there are people in those arts departments who are doing that,” she said.

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